R. Kent Hughes – 5 “Do Nots” of Fatherhood

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

1. Criticism

Every year when our family decorates our Christmas tree and I place a tiny red-and-green glass-beaded wreath on the tree, I think of the little boy who gave it to me when I coached soccer. His sarcastic, demeaning father would run up and down the field belittling his boy with words like “chicken” and “woman.” He was the only parent I ever told to be quiet or leave the field. I wonder sometimes how that boy, now a man, has fared.

Winston Churchill had such a father in Lord Randolph Churchill. He did not like the looks of Winston, he did not like his voice, he did not like to be in the same room with his son. He never complimented him—only criticized him. His biographers excerpt young Winston’s letters begging both parents for his father’s attention: “I would rather have been apprenticed as a bricklayer’s mate…it would have been natural…and I should have got to know my father…”

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R. Kent Hughes – 3 “Dos” of Fatherhood

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

1. Tenderness

The words “bring them up” mean “to nourish or feed,” as in 5:29 which has the same Greek words describing how a man “feeds and cares” for his own body. Calvin translates “bring them up” as “let them be kindly cherished,” and goes on to emphasize that the overall idea is to speak to one’s children with gentleness and friendliness.

When I was a teenager, my best friend’s father was a man’s man. He had spent thirty-two years in the Coast Guard as a non-commissioned officer, a chief bosun’s mate. He was a big man, and in his prime he had put on the gloves with Joe Louis. Officers greeted him first when he walked down the street. He could be rough and tumble. But do you know what he called his 265-pound son? “David dear.” I was “Kent dear,” and I did not mind at all. In fact, it made me feel great. He was not hung up on “Real men do not show affection.” In fact, he still kisses his grown son — a man’s man himself.

We are to be tender. Men are never manlier than when they are tender with their children — whether holding a baby in their arms, loving their grade- schooler, or hugging their teenager or adult children.

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Book Review – James: Faith that Works

James_Faith that Works

I hate to admit that I both love and hate the book of James. Okay – I know we are not supposed to hate any book of the Bible, but James addresses a plethora of life issues, many of which we struggle to place under the lordship of Jesus. I love what James has to say about the tongue but that of course means I have to stop allowing my tongue to steer the ship of my life. Rooting yourself in James for a while is a good and a challenging proposition. Furthermore, having a quality commentary alongside for that journey is important.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work through the book of James for my daughter’s homeschool assignments for Bible. Thus, having a commentary on hand was a must, in particular one that leaned less on the scholarly side. I had the pleasure of utilizing another marvelous volume from the Preaching the Word commentary series, namely R. Kent Hughes James: Faith that Works.

If you are unfamiliar with the Preaching the Word series, they are intended as a tool for preachers who will in turn utilize the information to share the valuable elements of the portion of Scripture in question with their parishioners. This series is scholarly when it needs to be; however, the focus is more on helping the pastor extract from the text the elements needed for sound expository preaching and more important, application of the text.

This particular volume carries on the excellent tradition of the overall series. James is absolutely a book replete with application. As Hughes saliently notes in the first chapter his commentary, “the dominant theme is, faith that is real works practically in one’s life. That is, true faith is a faith that works.”

Since we live in a time when the temptation is to embrace grace to the extent that obedience and works are terms that have often become rejected, it is absolutely vital that the proper balance between faith and works is correctly exegeted. Throughout this commentary, Hughes provides that correct relationship between faith and works, noting that if we claim to have faith and if we claim to be followers of God, our lives will demonstrate faithfulness to God’s commands out of love for God’s grace. The impact of that faithfulness will be a changed life that impacts how we interact with others and for that matter, with God. It is truly where the rubber meets the road of how to love God and others.

A fine example is found in Hughes discussion on the tongue. If there is one area where we all struggle, it is in controlling the tongue. How many times are we tempted to gossip, criticize, boast, lie, and the list goes on and on and on? While indeed sin originates in the heart, it is the tongue that lets loose much of the sinful behavior that originates from within. We curse others and bless God.

Hughes does not leave the reader wondering how to fix the problem of the tongue. This is where this type of commentary is so helpful. Hughes provides helpful application, most notably reminding the reader that we do not have to succumb to allowing this area of sin to control our lives. We can seek God’s cauterizing surgery, we can be in prayer, and we can discipline ourselves when it comes to the tongue. Yep – this involves work but after all, this if faith and works going hand in hand as God intended.

There is much to enjoy with this commentary as I have only scratched the surface in describing the valuable exegesis and application Hughes provides. James is a challenging book, one we would like to avoid but should not. Works is not something we enjoy hearing about, but if we proclaim to have faith, we had better check out what James has to say. If you are being led to explore the book of James, I highly recommend you take a look at R. Kent Hughes commentary on James. It will serve to be a helpful companion for your study.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review – Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior (Preaching the Word)

Mark

In recent months, I have been doing a bit of purging when it comes to my personal library. After years of accumulating books, many in relation to various classes in both Bible College and Seminary, things had gotten a bit out of hand. Furthermore, the subject matter of my theological interests has changed a bit over the years. Included in the great book purge were quite a few commentary sets. Several of those sets were helpful at the time for a good quote to insert in a research paper or some matter of practical application. With that said, as I reviewed whether to let those sets remain in my library, the answer was no far more often than it was yes.

A commentary set that has remained an important part of my library is the venerable Preaching the Word series from Crossway Books. This recently revamped and relaunched series, while particularly aimed at preachers, is also a series I would highly recommend to the layman audience as well. It is accessible, scholarly when it needs to be without becoming overwhelmed with technical jargon, and most importantly, it relates the truth of Scripture to everyday life.

Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a look at a recent release in this series on the Gospel of Mark authored by R. Kent Hughes. My review of this particular volume was rather fortuitous timing as the Gospel of Mark will shortly be the focus on our homeschool Bible class. Needless to say, I was in need of a valuable resource from which to glean instruction material that would be appropriate for a middle school aged child while still providing an adult audience (namely myself) food for thought as well. The Mark commentary fit both of those needs and more.

The Gospel of Mark is action packed with the word “immediately” being used numerous times. Contained within the action are important matters of theological truth that can be gleaned if we take the time to ask the question why when reading for example John the Baptist declaring his message of repentance or Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Hughes expertly analyzes the Gospel of Mark, interacting with the text in such a way that both explains the context while also digging into those important matters of application.

For instance, in the section on the aforementioned calming of the Sea of Galilee, Hughes saliently comments, “Jesus came in the darkest part of the night when they had exhausted their energies and were in deepest despair. This is how he often comes to us, that we might learn the futility of our own strength and depend upon him. The very waves that distressed them became a path for his feet – so transcending was his power. His feet upon the waves bespoke his familiarity with their plight. He not only sees, but enters the human struggle.”

Such commentary again recognizes the important theological points of the calming of the Sea of Galilee, namely that of Jesus power and authority over creation as God, while also noting to the reader what that means in their everyday life. Jesus is God and Jesus understands and cares for us in the midst of the storms of life and most often intervenes when we have recognized that our futile efforts are in vain. Truly such an event speaks of the need for dependence on a sovereign and mighty God, something Hughes picks up on in his commentary and aptly relays to the reader.
This is just one of a plethora of examples I could have presented of quality exegesis and helpful application of truth. If you are in search of a quality commentary series or in particular a study on the Gospel of Mark, I highly recommend R. Kent Hughes contribution on Mark.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review – Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul

Hebrews There are just some commentary series I have grown to greatly appreciate. Such series earn my respect not necessarily for diving into every nuance of Hebrew and Greek or analyzing all of the various historical issues of a particular text or for their scholarly verbiage and approach. While I certainly appreciate all of those elements given they are important in their own right, what draws me more often than not to a commentary is the ability of the author and the editor for that matter to provide a product that exegetes Scripture faithfully and most importantly in a way that enables the reader to grasp the overall message of the book in question. Additionally, I look for an effort that ultimately helps the reader apply the text both in their own life and in the lives of others which is after all the purpose of studying Scripture in the first place.

Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine and one of their latest additions, namely R. Kent Hughes revised Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul is a volume I firmly believe should be in th possession of laymen, scholars, and most importantly it should be on the shelf of every pastor. This is a series and a particular volume that has the ability to dig into Scripture without getting lost in the academics, scholarly notations, or other issues that make many other commentary series so difficult to read.

Crossway has taken the excellent two volume commentary on Hebrews by R. Kent Hughes and combined them into one volume. Some may think that for a book as deep as Hebrews, this would result in a gigantic single commentary volume that would take forever to work through. The exact opposite is true given this combined commentary clocks in at around 550 pages.

The commentary itself is biblically sound and very readable. The intent of this particular commentary series is helping pastors dig sufficiently into the text so they can in turn relay a message their parishioners will understand. Given the theological depth and importance of a book like Hebrews, it is absolutely vital to get the theology correct and to present the exegesis of this book in such a manner that can be relayed to the average layman. As Hughes so rightly notes, while there is certainly a variety of opinions on the specifics of Hebrews, “Virtually all agree that the grand theme of this epistle is the supremacy and finality of Christ.” It is that glorious theme which Hughes spends every page exploring.

I found Hughes exegesis to salient, especially in relation to the more difficult passages found throughout Hebrews. The grand issues of Hebrews such as faith, covenant, hope, Jesus as High Priest, the warning passages, that enigmatic character of Melchizedek, and the call to persevere are all addressed in this excellent commentary. The exegesis is well thought out, expertly presented, and extremely valuable for anyone desiring to understand Hebrews. I know I will return to this volume many times in the future as I engage what God has to say in Hebrews. Hughes does a marvelous job and I truly appreciated the practical approach taken by the author. All you pastors out there – grab a copy of this book!

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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